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Double Bastard!

Ah the joys of Stone Brewing.  I’ve had this bottle of Double Bastard for over a year, and I said “screw it, I’m drinking it.”

Rating a 99 on ratebeer and a 95 on beer advocate in the American strong ale category, this is one of my favorite examples of the style.

What stands out about this beer, along with Stone’s regular pale ale and Arrogant Bastard ale, is that there’s a pronounced hoppiness and a pronounced maltiness that don’t cancel each other out.  In reading The Craft of Stone Brewing, I discovered that Arrogant Bastard was derived from a test batch of Stone pale ale that went wrong (they put too many of the same ingredients in for the batch size).  What came out was so good, despite being a big mistake from what they intended to make, that they made a whole new brew out of it.  Obviously, their creation was a huge success, because arrogant bastard is one of the best beers on the planet, and has been a big commercial hit for the brewery too.  I can only assume that they continued this evolution to create double bastard.  You can see, taste and smell all the same great ingredients in all three beers.

It pours a somewhat cloudy, reddish-brown color with a 1/2 finger head that dissipates into a sheen and leaves thin sheets of lacing that cover the glass.

Aroma is heavily malty, with sweet citrus and lots of hops.  You can detect a bit of alcohol already, although at 11.2%, this is to be expected.

Flavor is a BOMB of a monster of a beer!  American strong ale is right, and this may be the quintessential example of the style (which, BTW, has been hit or miss for me).  The flavors are so strong that they seem to permeate your tongue.  So much maltiness that you’ll think you died and went to malt heaven.  It’s a bit barleywine-esque in that sense, in fact there is probably a lot of overlap between this beer and a good barleywine.  Hops wise you’re once again about to cry uncle, unless you’re a hop-head (like me), in which case you’re just marveling at the saturation of intense flavors that they manage to cram into a single brew.   Piney citrus from the hops is notable.  It’s also quite fruity, with light and mixed mid/dark fruit flavors coming through.  Really your taste buds can’t decide which way to go, but they keep coming back for more.

Feel wise it’s thick, rich, somewhat slick, and downright delicious, with a lingering malty and bitter hop aftertaste.

Overall, you just need one word.  Stone.

A direct quote from the Stone Brewery, and the full text of what’s on the back of the bottle:

This is one lacerative muther of an ale. It is unequivocally certain that your feeble palate is grossly inadequate and thus undeserving of this liquid glory…and those around you would have little desire to listen to your resultant whimpering. Instead, you slackjawed gaping gobemouche, slink away to that pedestrian product that lures agog the great unwashed with the shiny happy imagery of its silly broadcast propaganda. You know, the one that offers no challenge, yet works very, very hard to imbue the foolhardy with the absurd notion that they are exercising ‘independent’ thought, or attempts to convey the perception it is in some way ‘authentic’ or ‘original.’ It’s that one that makes you feel safe and delectates you into basking in the warm, fuzzy, and befuddled glow of your own nescience. Why so many allow themselves to be led by the nose lacks plausible explanation. Perhaps you have been so lulled by the siren song of ignorance that you don’t even notice your white-knuckle grip on it. You feel bold and unique, but alas are nothing but sheep, willingly being herded to and fro. If you think you are being piqued in this text, it is nothing when compared to the insults we are all asked to swallow streaming forth from our televisions and computers. Truth be told, you are being coddled into believing you are special or unique by ethically challenged “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” marketers who layer (upon layer) imagined attributes specifically engineered to lead you by the nose. Should you decide to abdicate your ability to make decisions for yourself, then you are perhaps deserving of the pabulum they serve. Double Bastard Ale calls out the garrulous caitiffs who perpetrate the aforementioned atrocities and demands retribution for their outrageously conniving, intentionally misleading, blatantly masturbatory and fallacious ad campaigns. We demand the unmitigated, transparent truth. We demand forthright honesty. We want justice! Call ‘em out and line ‘em up against the wall… NOW.

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Ruination! Stone Strikes Again!

Just picked up a few four packs today for a long weekend, had to grab a four pack of Stone Ruination, one of the best American Double/IPAs on the planet!

Mostly clear and tan to slightly orange in color, great head and lacing, a very good looking brew.

The hops permeates your nasal cavity like some kind of magnificent medicine, designed to sooth the soul.

There’s bready malts that beautifully accent the plentiful hops that make up the bulk of the flavor.  Amazing!  Flowers and earthy woody hop character just blast your taste buds.  Pine and citrus/grapefruit accent the bitterness, which is high but very smooth.  A hop head’s dream, consistently one of the best IPAs available in the USA! USA! USA!

Feel is so very rich and thick, so much body for a DIPA, and so damn smooth.  It’s almost like smoking a maduro robusto cigar, in that it’s powerful but smooth, complex as hell and you just can’t rush it.  In fact, if there’s an IPA that I’d want with a fine cigar, this might just be it.

Obviously Stone puts a lot of effort into all their wonderful beers, but Ruination still manages to stand out nonetheless.  And how it’s possible to top their regular IPA is beyond me… but ruination really does stand out as an amazing and extremely well crafted beer.

Stone.  That’s all I need to know.

BTW, I like the four-packs of this brew better than the six packs.  I’m sure it’s just psychological, as the price was nearly identical per bottle,  but I also think Stone will probably sell more of this in four-packs than sixers.  Though I love the bombers too (haven’t checked the math on the prices, but who cares, I love bombers!).

As an aside, I also picked up a four pack of Sublimely Self-Righteous today.  I love four packs of this even better than bombers.  For some reason I like the 12oz bottles best for this particular beer.

Are four packs the new sixers?

The Extreme Amazingness of Stone

In a word – Stone.

A single word that practically defines all that is good in the world of craft beer.  If I had to pick a single brewery for life, and I could never ever drink anyone else’s beer, “Stone” would uttered from my lips within about 0.0000001 picoseconds.

An overview of Stone’s beers reveals a wealth of fantastic beers.  I’ve had a lot of them, but not all.  My loss that I didn’t discover Stone earlier!  However, I have now seen the light, and everything about this brewery totally kicks ass!  From their absolutely outstanding Levitation to their amazingly delicious IPA to the wonderful Arrogant Bastard, Oaked Arrogant Bastard, and Double Bastard, the terrific Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, and the palate wrecking, heavenly divine gift to all hop-heads Ruination, virtually anything produced by this brewery pretty much walks on water!

Make sure to follow Stone on Facebook and Twitter, and read their Blog!

Another really amazing thing about Stone is their bottles.  Thanks for using such great bottles, they are absolutely perfect for homebrewers like me!  I use the 12oz and 22oz bottles all the time for homebrewing.

I’ve been to the Stone Bistro and Gardens in Escondido, CA, and I can’t wait to get back there again.  What a great place, beautifully done, amazing food, amazing beer, amazing people.  I was very happy to see Pliny the Elder on tap there too, plus some other Cali beers, what a great experience.  It’s definitely a must-see for the San Diego area.

I’ve been reading The Craft Of Stone Brewing Company, and it’s really an amazing book.  Hardcover, beautifully illustrated, well written, and downright inspiring, I highly recommend it.  Complete with recipes for beer and food, plus tons of interesting stuff about their beers, business, and philosophy, it’s well worth the price (which, BTW, was pretty reasonable).  It inspired me to go buy a bunch of Stone beer today too!  I’ve got a sixer of IPA, a sixer of Oaked Arrogant Bastard, a bomber of regular Arrogant Bastard, and two bottles of 10th Anniversary Ruination chilling in the fridge right now!  I’m about to go ahead and post a review of the 10th Anniversary Ruination, can’t wait to for it to get cold!!!  …

<interlude, while beer is chilling>

…ok, it’s ready!  Here we go…

Ruination 10th Anniversary IPA

Nice looking, orange/tan and clear, nice lasting head and great lace.

Aroma is just amazing. You can smell the oily hops rising off the head. Monster pine and grapefruit. Fruity citrus notes.

Taste is an amazing hop bomb from the ninth layer of light beer hell! This is what BMC drinkers have to consume when the devil wins their soul in a poker game! Great big hop cones blast your taste buds with amazing flavors of citrus (grapefruit, oranges, tangerines), pine, pine resin, a lovely sweetness, and a great malty base.

Well carbonated with a pretty rich, full mouthfeel. Not dry at all, finishes pretty sweet for a double IPA. Lingering sweetness and bitterness.

I’ve read the reviews and I don’t really concur that there’s a noticeable alcohol presence. I don’t detect it, I think it’s pretty damn smooth stuff considering the ABV.

In a word – Stone. That’s all that really needs to be said.

Congratulation on ten years of one of the best IPAs, and best breweries on the planet!

Stone – Pour Me A Double, Bastard That Is!!

It’s finally that time of year, the time when Stone Brewing comes out with their seasonal release of Double Bastard.  Such an amazing beer!!  This year’s batch weighs in at a hefty 10.5% ABV.  It’s got characteristics somewhat like that of a Quadrupel, although it’s considered a Strong Ale.  Amazing in every way, so malty, yet so hoppy at the same time, with incredible complexity and an overload of deliciousness!!  The body and feel are amazing!!

Stone is possibly America’s best overall brewery, although this is of course arguable.   But if I had to choose one brand as the only brand I could ever have for the rest of my life on a desert island … you know the scenario, it would probably be Stone.  A review of their regular offerings is a tour of the definition of great beer.

Their flagship Pale Ale is just amazing.  Smoked porter is delicious.  Levitation is the hoppiest session beer I’ve ever had, and I try to always have at least one bottle on hand at all times.

Stone’s IPAs really shine.  Their standard India Pale Ale is THE beer that made me start liking IPAs, and realizing the amazing complexity of the style.  Cali-Belgique is amazing too, an excellent example of the Belgian version of the IPA.  But Ruination blows virtually every IPA out there completely out of the water, it’s just insanely good, and available year round.

Seasonally, I am always waiting for December, when Double Bastard comes out.  I can’t stop raving about how good this incredible Strong Ale really is.  I’ve got a bottle aging now, and I intend to open it on my last day in the army.  Yeah!!

The Epic Vertical series has been interesting, at least the ones I’ve been able to try, which are the 09.09.09 and 10.10.10.  Absolutely delicious.  I could drink the 10.10.10 all the time!  I will post a reply to this post when I get the 11.11.11 (which will be very soon).  Maybe I’ll get to try some of the earlier Epic Vertical series, depending on the trade winds and whether they age well.

And the actual Brewery and Gardens… an absolute must see if you’re anywhere near San Diego.  I recommend getting a hotel nearby (there are a couple reasonably priced, plenty nice ones), then taking a cab to and from.  This made for a fantastic session with my long time friend Linda and myself!  The gardens are great, the service is great, the takeout is great, the food is great, just do it already!!

Stone.  I salute you.

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